Rumor has it the grand jury has been pulling in City Council members, city officials and other “movers and shakers,” talking about Watsonville. What is the grand jury looking for? No one is at liberty to say; however, people are talking, and they are worried. Many do not know what the grand jury really is and what it came to Watsonville to do.
The grand jury consists of people from every walk of life who work to ensure that the institutions of government are responsive and fair to those who are governed. It also protects minority opinions or unpopular causes from persecution or prosecution. The grand jury is one of the oldest, most respected, and powerful civil institutions in the United States. The state of California mandates that 19 randomly selected citizens be chosen every year to sit on the grand jury in Santa Cruz County. The grand hury selection process is set forth in the California Penal Code
The grand jury is part of the judicial branch of government and has three functions:
1) To examine all aspects of city and county governments and special districts by initiating its own investigations.
2) To serve as ombudsmen for the citizens of the cities and county. A person can request the help of the grand jury by writing to:
3) To conduct criminal investigations and, if the evidence is sufficient, issue criminal indictments in lieu of a preliminary Superior Court hearing. (co.santa-cruz.ca.us/grandjury/gjfunction.htm)
Now the real question: What is it doing pulling in Watsonville city staff, City Council and other residents? Like stated previously, I do not know, and for the record, I have not been pulled in myself. What I do know is this. Watsonville has been under a lot of scrutiny. It was just this past Thursday that City Manager Carlos Palacios announced a proposed budget that includes . Also, the committee consisting of Mayor Daniel Dodge, and Councilmen Manuel Bersamin and Eduardo Montesino have proposed a 20 percent cut (around $55,000) to social services groups.
That being said, people are starting to wonder where their tax dollars are going. The city manager and staff salaries, according to the state website, total up to a whopping $676,500. We have a absent fire truck worth $200,00 that we paid for three years ago that should be here in June (doubt it). And, hearing about the many shenanigans that go on in the nearly empty Civic Plaza, I am going to assume that a couple people will be in a little trouble, and when I say little, in my mind I see the city of Bell.
But hey, what do I know? I am just sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what the grand jury says.